Eric Clapton – The 1960’s Review

Eric Clapton - The 1960's ReviewEric ClaptonThe 1960’s Review (Sexy Intellectual)

When I was growing up, Eric Clapton was always held in high esteem by my father, and he instilled in me an almost immediate respect for the guitarist. He taught me that bands like Cream and Blind Faith were more than just rock bands, they were “super groups.”

In terms of Clapton’s own legacy, the sole record Clapton did with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers became Dad’s ultimate go-to record as proof of Eric’s dexterity.

“You know that someone spray painted ‘Clapton is God’ on a wall because of his playing on ‘Beano,'” he’d tell me, before explaining the meaning of “Beano.” For years, I thought the Mayall/Clapton Bluesbreakers was actually called “Beano” and became dismayed when I could never find the album of the same name.

Since I was prewired to appreciate Clapton, there was almost an instinctual attraction toward a new documentary on his early years. The unauthorized dvd, The 1960’s Review, focuses on the guitarist’s formative years, when his talent was untarnished by later career decisions that undermined the man’s credibility.

The two-hour documentary tracks Clapton’s early years through the use of archival footage and interviews with various musicians who were near the events. A large part of the interviews come from expert biographers and music journalists. Director Alan Westbrook does bring up a few archival Clapton interview bits, ranging from the obligatory Hendrix perm Eric from the late sixties to the long-haired elder statesman of his early ’90s unplugged revival to modern-day shots of the aging guitarist. It all has a very cut-and-paste feel to it as you begin to notice that the film really has a minimal amount of footage to choose from when it comes to first-hand Clapton accounts.

The limited production value also begins to show when the Yardbirds biographer sticks around for comments on Cream and Blind Faith and the Melody Maker reporter offers such informative bits that could have been gleaned from just reading the liner notes. But what’s most annoying is the cheap imitation of “White Room” that keeps playing the moment the film gets to Clapton’s involvement with Cream. The narrator tells the viewers of such groundbreaking Cream material, but all we hear is that same, phony “White Room” rip that provides us generic cues of the era we’re focusing at on-screen.

The 1960’s Review drudges on and becomes a challenge to watch thanks to the limitations of the footage and its boring choice of talking heads. It plays like an A&E Biography episode with a smaller budget and without the commercials to help break up the monotony of its material.

Did I learn anything new by watching it? Not at all. And while it may have been short on revealing facts about the artist, it’s biggest crime is presenting him in such a way that it won’t stir up any interest in Eric Clapton for future reading.

Even my old man’s Clapton storytelling could manage to do that.

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10 thoughts on “Eric Clapton – The 1960’s Review”

  1. I held off saying something but what the hell – Eric Clapton really screwed up his own legacy with his mid/later career decisions and his seemingly natural ability to gravitate towards crap music. I know you touched on this, Todd but man it can’t be said enough. For a guitarist with so much clout and so much great music in his PAST – he just ruined things around – I don’t know – 1996? Earlier? I saw him in 1996 at the Capital Center in Maryland and to this day, it remains the all time worst concert I’ve ever seen. What a bore. It’s hard to listen to his good stuff and make the connection of what he became in his later years. A bore. Look at the cover of his new record – good grief.

  2. Yea I was being generous when dating the era that he began to suck ass.

    I did kind of like that song he did for the Tom Cruise/Paul Newman movie though in 1986 – but Robbie Robertson co-wrote it with him.

  3. Some may not like Erics later stuff, but at this point in his life, why not do the music he loves doing. He has always been a blues fan, so why not! Regardless of what music he plays, there is no better guitarist. I for one will buy anything he puts out just to hear the guitar licks.

  4. I stayed until Another Ticket and got off quickly after hearing “I get off on ’57 Chevy’s” for the first time. It got worse. Much worse. And like Jonathan, I can count an Eric Clapton concert as one of my all time worse concerts ever. It was sometime during the late 80’s..maybe ’90…and I took a green pen and marked the word “Yawn” on the ticket stub afterwards. Still have it lodged in the jewel case for 24 Nights which I think is fairly decent. If I remember, they played that song “Bad Love” for what seemed to be an eternity when I saw him, but then again, I ate a bunch of mushrooms before that show, so my perception may have been off.

    I loved that album From The Cradle in the 90’s.

    And most recently, I saw Clapton again a few years ago and it was great. He played a few hits, but stuck to a lot of blues and obscure cuts-which is why I dug the show. That and the fact that his playing was a bunch more fluid and playful with that material. There was little flair to the show; just a big Oriental rug, a Fender, and a combo amp. Good stuff.

  5. Besides Elton John, is there any other major artist that has coasted as fiercely on his past achievements as Eric Clapton? As pointless as it may be, I’d rather have The Who come back for an upteenth reunion tour and give me the classics than hear one new album after another of uninspired crap from someone like Clapton.

  6. Kiko, I’d toss Rod Stewart in there. I’d include Sting, too, if I didn’t think he was at least trying. It’s awful, but I get the sense he’s committed to the music. I don’t get that sense with EC, Elton or Rod the Clod. I mean Mod. But all of ’em, yawn city these days.

  7. I dunno, while Rod has squandered his gifts a la Elton John and Clapton he doesn’t command undue respect like those other guys do. Sting lost me as a fan, not because he sucks but, because his music does not interest me anymore. However, I’ll give him props for taking chances and doing different things. It seems to me Sting embodies the whole I-don’t-need-the-money-I’ll-do-whatever-I-want vibe. I just wish I’d enjoy his recent work.

  8. Agreed on Sting. I guess the thing that gets me about Rod is he’s so popular while sucking so bad. I don’t think Clapton or John still sell as many records as rooster top does. I hope his latest “American Songbook” doesn’t sell a ton. Who the hell needs Rod’s take on these warhorses? And mind you, there was a time when Rod was one of the best interpreters of other peoples’ songs in rock music, so it’s not like I have a problem with him doing covers.

  9. This reminds of one of my favorite old school GLONO pieces: Stephen Macaulay’s “Dying Young—or Not” from 2003 in which Mac uses A.E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” from 1896 to explore the concept of it being better to burn out than to fade away.

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